9 Typical Reasons Dogs Shed Extensively (+ How To Stop It)

Many dogs shed more than they should and it can be a real struggle for the owner.

Here are the most common reasons dogs shed extensively and what you can do to stop it.

Helpful Tip
When your dog sheds a lot it’s a great help to use anti-itch shampoo. It will reduce the scratching and help you keet the hair outdoor. We recommend a 100% natural type on our list of 24 must-haves for dog owners. (It’s a really great list with a ton of helpful items for dog owners)

How Much Shedding Is Too Much?

Most dogs lose a lot of hair during the spring and fall seasons. It’s natural to brush out 3-5 handfuls of hair per day during the shedding season. It becomes too much when the dog gets bald spots on the skin and loses big chunks of hair from shedding.

Too much shedding

Before we get started we need to clarify one thing.

All dogs will shed to some extent and some dog breeds will shed a lot when they are losing their winter coat (or preparing himself for the winter coat). This is only natural and you should expect to always be able to brush out several chunks of hair when you brush your dog from the neck to the tail.

Dogs shed in order to get rid of old and damaged hair and they also shed to control their body temperature when the winter turns to spring.

So you shouldn’t expect your dog to stop shedding and it’s never a problem with the little bit of shedding.

But sometimes it becomes WAY too much and the dog starts losing its hairs in big chunks. This is what we call extensive dog sitting and we need to pay close attention to what’s going on when this happens.

Here are the most common reasons why dogs start shedding extensively and we have also listed solutions to what you can do about it.

9 Reasons Dogs Shed Too Much

We have listed the reasons below in random order.

We have also listed the best and easiest solution for each reason so you can see exactly what you should do to stop the shedding in each case.

1) Grain-Based Diets

The most common reason why dogs start shedding extensively is that they are given an imbalanced diet. This is not the place to save a few bucks.

Your dog needs good food and you shouldn’t buy the cheapest bag of dog food at the grocery store.

You should make sure that the food you choose is based on meat. The best choice here is chicken but other meat-sources will also do. On top of that, you should make sure that the food contains all the important nutrients and fatty acid that are essential for the dog’s fur and health.

Many cheap dog food options are based on grains and the poorest quality food typically come from corn. Corn is the cheapest type of grain but it’s not good for the dog in the long run.

Dogs need meat and proteins in order to keep good health and healthy fur that doesn’t shed too much.

  • Solution

The solution here is really simple. You just need to make sure that you choose a good quality brand of dog food with all the things your dog needs.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Choose meat-based food over grain-based food¬†
  • Preferably with Chicken as the main ingredient
  • Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids (5:1 ratio)
  • Protein content should be at least 30%
  • Look for food with vitamin C & E

You should avoid dog food where the first ingredient is corn. You also shouldn’t feed your dog gluten-free food.

There are very few dog breeds (and pets in general) that are intolerant to gluten or grain and you often end up causing more harm than good if you do feed your dog a diet based primarily on grain products.

The fine coat needs food that’s rich on fatty acids in order to avoid too much shedding.

2) It’s Just The Shedding Season

Most dogs will naturally start shedding two times a year no matter what you do. Here you can read exactly when it is shedding season for dogs.

Here’s a table from the article we link to above:

Season Amount Of Shedding
Spring Much shedding as the dog changes from a winter coat to a summer coat
Summer Least shedding
Fall Much shedding as the dog changes from a summer coat to a winter coat
Winter Moderate shedding as the coat is thicker
This will typically happen in early spring as the dog prepares itself for warmer weather by losing some of the thick winter coat. It happens again in late fall because the dog will lose the summer coat to make way for the thicker winter coat.

This is especially true for double-coated dogs which have two layers of fur.

When we are talking about Labradors and Golden Retrievers, for example, we are dealing with large dogs with a big coat. They will always shed extensively during the spring and fall seasons and so will a long list of other dogs with a double-coated fur.

  • Solution

There’s not really anything to do about this other than making sure you’re brushing the dog thoroughly every day.

You should always start with a “Curry Comb” in order to get all the hairs in line. When you have done that you can start with the de-shedding brush in order to get some of that deeper coat out before it ends up on the sofa.

Here are our recommended brushes and de-shedding tools for dogs.

3) The Dog Is Pregnant

When the dog is pregnant it will also typically start shedding much more than normal.

This is also described as “blowing her a coat” and it’s completely normal. The mother dog will do so even though you are feeding it properly and care for it in the best way possible.

This happens because of that hormonal changes in the dog and because of this dress the dog is naturally going through during the pregnancy and birth of the puppies.

  • Solution

There’s nothing to do here.

Just make sure you feed the soon-to-be mother the best possible diet as we described above.

4) Stress-Induced Shedding

Stress in dogs can result in excessive shedding.

This happens because when the dog is getting stressed out from anxiety, depression, etc. and when that happens the skin retracts and the hair falls out. It can even cause premature hair to fall out.

This is a common stress-related signal for mammals and we also see it among many other animals.

That’s a matter of fact, this doesn’t only happen when the dog is experiencing “bad stress”. When we talk about stress we categorize it into “Eustress” (positive stress) and “Distress” (negative stress).

For the same reason, you will often experience that your dog will start shedding more when it gets really exciting. This can happen when you come home from the trip or if it’s just full of energy. So stress-related shedding in dogs is not always related to anxiety, depressions, and other bad things.

  • Solution

Make sure the environment around the dog is steady and calm.

It’s important for dogs to rest sometimes and they shouldn’t be exposed to hectic work environments and other places with lots of new people. Make sure to give it a few days break from smaller kids and enthusiastic people as well as other animals.

It’s perfectly fine too, to leave the dog home alone as long as it can deal with being alone.

As soon as it finds more rest the amount of shedding should go back to normal.

5) Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can also lead to shedding problems for the dog. Bacterial infections like salmonella can be caught from eating raw food like uncooked chicken.

The problem can also stem from fungal infections. This can happen if the dog gets in contact with mold or other types of fungus.

Remember that dogs are very curious and they will sniff up everything they can find in the corners of your house. So make sure your house is clean from mold and moist on the walls.

Dogs can also find fungus in nature.

It can happen after a good walk if the dog inhales the spores found in soil with bird poop etc. This can also cost a lot of other problems besides shedding so it’s really important to take the dog to the vet quickly.

There is a long list of other ways to catch an infection which will not go into detail with here.

  • Solution

If you suspect this to be the problem you need to consult a vet. A dog with a bacterial infection needs to get proper treatment from professionals.

If you fail to do so the dog can pick up much more serious problems than too much shedding. It can go blind or the brain and skin can catch defects which might never fully regenerate.

6) Fleas & Mites

Parasites like fleas and mites can also cause your dog to start shedding uncontrollably.

When this happens this shedding will continue until the parasite is removed. This can happen because the dog is itching and will start scratching itself which can cause bald spots.

When this happens the dog owners typically suffer along with the dogs because the dog will har a hard time sleeping at night. So he/she will be making noises and scratching him/herself and keep you awake.

  • Solution

The most important thing to do here is to get proper treatment in order to get the fleas and mites off the dog as soon as possible.

The problem will continue as long as the little suckers are present on the animal.

7) Allergies To Food Or Medicin

It’s also quite common for dogs to get allergic to specific types of food or medicine.

If you cannot figure out why your dog is shedding extensively, the first thing you can do is to change the food to a new brand. At the top of this article, we discussed how to spot the good brands from the bad ones.

If you just started giving your dog some sort of medicine or medical treatment you can also check whether your dog is showing an allergic reaction.

You can also try to change the brand of shampoo you are using.

Note
You can find the Shampoos we can recommend on our list of must-haves for dog owners (Go to item #8 on the list).
These shampoos are completely free of parabens, artificial colors, etc. and they are made in the USA. The de-shedding shampoo is recommended for dogs that shed uncontrollably.
  • Solution

Make sure you have a good solid diet for your dog and try changing things around if you are experiencing too much shedding.

If this doesn’t work you can also check for allergies toward medicine. Try getting another brand or another type of medicine and see if the problem goes away.

8) Sunburns

If your dog has been exposed to direct sunlight for a long time it can also cause the skin to shed off the hair and fur.

This will typically only happen for dogs with short hair and/or bright-colored hair. This type of skin is much more prone to get burned by the sun and you need to protect the dog from the direct sunlight.

Dogs can also get sunburned under the belly as the sun reflects up from the ground. When the sunlight hits the bald part under the dog it can create burns that you might not notice at first.

Sunburns can be really painful for the dog and you need to make sure he/she gets plenty of water and you can also try to let the dog rest on a wet towel. This might give some relief and take the dogs attention away from the pain.

  • Solution

Bring the dog into the shade and make sure it doesn’t stay out in direct sunlight for too long at the time.

Take walks in the forest or somewhere else where trees will create cover from the sun and create shade. The dog will typically get will pretty quickly if it’s not burned too badly.

As always, when you are in doubt or if the sunburn this really bad you should take him/her to the vet immediately to get checked.

As soon as the skin returns to normal it should start growing hair again and the high level of shedding should stop.

9) Lack Of Fresh Air

The cause of shedding here is not what you would suspect. But we had a hard time coming up with a more precise title than “Lack of fresh air”.

Your dog doesn’t need fresh air in order to keep the coat on but if it stays indoors most of the time it might not be able to detect whenever the seasons change. Dogs will naturally change their coat when the seasons change from winter to spring and from summer to fall. You can read all about the different shedding seasons here.

The problem here is that a dog that stays indoors all the time will not know went to change the winter coat into a thinner coat for the warm summer months.

This can cause the dog to start shedding constantly (all-year-round) because the internal clock gets messed up.

This typically happens when you have excessive use of air conditioning and heating around the dog. It’s much better to get the dog out in the fresh air as often as possible so it can “detect” the season correctly.

This is something the dog will know from instinct but when you keep them indoors all day long they will not be able to detect the changes in the amount of sunlight and heat.

  • Solution

Take the dog out for a good long walk at least once every day.

You would be surprised to know how many dogs that rarely see the light of the sun. Your dog wasn’t born to stay indoors all day long. They need fresh air and open fields in order to thrive.

When the dog falls back into a more normal rhythm it will start shedding more according to the standard shedding seasons for dogs.

5 Remedies For Stopping Extensive Shedding

There are many great ways to reduce shedding naturally. So you don’t need to try medical treatments when your dog starts to shed all over the place. At least not to begin with.

Let’s first see if we cannot figure things out with natural remedies.

Here is some good solution we can try.

We recommend you start out with one thing at the time in order to find out what works best for your dog. If what you are trying doesn’t work just move onto the next point on the list.

1) Homemade Coconut Oil Spray

Coconut oil is a great source of natural healing.

It contains a lot of good things for the dog and you can choose whether to apply it through a spray can or orally.

If you choose to spray it unto the dog you simply take 1 or 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and mix it with water in a bottle. You can get a spray bottle and most pharmacy stores or pet stores.

Now you just give the bottle a good shake because the two elements don’t mix well together. Coconut and oil will not dissolve. After you have shaken it well you just spray it directly onto the fur.

You can also feed the dog 1 tablespoon of coconut oil through the mouth.

When you do this you need to make sure not to feed it too much coconut oil because we need to make sure its stomach can handle the oil. Give it a little bit of coconut oil first and weighed a day or two to check that the dog’s stomach handles it well.

2) De-Shedding Shampoo

We have made a list of good types of shampoo we recommend for dogs (see item #8).

This list includes a special de-shedding shampoo that will give your dog exactly what it needs in order to keep a healthy coat. We are aiming for a shampoo which is rich in fatty acids.

These fatty acids are essential for the dog and they are also included on the list (at the top of this article) for what to look for in proper dog food.

There are also special types of shampoo that will remove bad smell and odors from your dog.

It’s important to shower your dog regularly in order to limit the amount of shedding. Washing your dog regularly does limit the shedding because it keeps the fur clean and healthy while it gets rid of much of the hair.

3) Vacuum Cleaners For Pet Hair

We have talked about the special vacuum cleaners before because they are simply genius.

They are designed in a way so that the dog hair doesn’t get tangled up in the brush roll.

They have a specially designed brush roll that doesn’t create hair tangles. Normal vacuum cleaners will quickly fill up the brush roll with the dog hair and leave the machine useless after a few minutes of vacuuming.

Check out the special vacuum cleaners here. As you can see they look like normal vacuumers but they are much more efficient and (luckily) they can also do the same things that normal vacuum cleaners can do.

4) Proper De-Shedding Tools

It’s important to use proper de-shedding tools in order to remove the excess hair effectively.

This needs to be done daily during the periods where your dog is shedding all over the place.

You should expect to drive out big chunks of hair if we are talking about a bigger dog like a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. These two dog breeds are notoriously famous for shedding all through the year.

You can see here exactly how much Labs and Golden Retrievers shed (and which one is the winner).

Note
You can see our easy explanations and recommendations for de-shedding tool and brushes here. Many people get this wrong and use the wrong tools or they will use them in the wrong order. This can end up causing more harm than good for the poor dog.

The de-shedding procedure is probably the most important part of limiting the amount of shedding in dogs. But we saved it for last because most people already know about these tools.

But if you haven’t educated yourself on how to choose the best de-shedding tools for your specific type of dog you need to check the list we have made here.

It shows exactly which tools to get for each type of dog.

5) Brush Daily In The Right Order

We just talked about using the right de-shedding tools. It’s equally important that you use the brushing and de-shedding tools in the right order.

Let’s first go over the right order when we are de-shedding double-layered dogs as they are the breeds that shed the most. (So you are most probably keeping on of these wonderful pets.)

  1. Curry Brush
    You should always start out with the “Curry Brush” in order to get all the hair lined up in the same direction. If you fail to do so you might cause damage to the skin when you shift over to the de-shedding brush.
    We do it this way to get rid of the tangles and knots in the fur so this is extra important for long-haired dogs (like Collies) as well as wired-haired dogs.
  2. De-shedding Tool With Long Teeth
    Use a de-shedding tool with long teeth in order to dig into the undercoat and get that extensive amount of fluffy fur out. We do this with shorter strokes. This tool is also called “A stripper” and for thicker coats, we use a tool with fewer blades (more distance between the blades). 6-10 blades for very thick fur and 15-20 blades for shorter hair. We only want to do this process a couple of times per week as it removes much more hair than the Curry Brush.
  3. Apply Coconut Oil
    At this point, you can apply some coconut oil directly unto the skin of the dog. You do this with a mix of coconut oil (1 tablespoon) and 0.2 gallons (around one liter) of water. Shake the mix and spray it unto the skin while you rub it in with a brush or your hands.
    This is a great way to dehydrate the skin of the dog.

When we want to brush dogs that have thinner coats or single-layered coats we just skip the “de-shedding” tools (step 2) and go directly from the Curry Brush to the coconut oil.

We only use the de-shedding tools with longer teeth when we want to remove the undercoat. So it’s not relevant for dog breeds with a single layer of fur.

In Closing

As we have mentioned several times, you can never get rid of dog shedding.

Dog hair is a part of every dog owners everyday life. But there are a number of things you can do in order to reduce the amount of shedding and you should always pay close attention to extensive shedding.

Dogs are not supposed to shed big chunks of their coat week after week, except for the 3-4 weeks where they naturally shift from winter coats to summer coats (and vice versa).

I hope these tips and tricks will help you gain control over the little shedding monster and hopefully, you will regain control over your home.

Additional Questions

Does Shedding Hurt The Dog?
Natural shedding doesn’t hurt the dog in any way. It’s natural for the dog to change the coat in the spring and fall seasons. However, some reasons for shedding might be hurtful. Parasites and stress need to be addressed and dealt with to ensure the dog is not suffering.

Can I Moisturize My Dogs Skin?
You can moisturize the skin of the dog by making sure it gets fatty acids in its diet. You can also prevent the skin from dryness by spraying on a mix of coconut oil and water. Coconut oil can also be given orally in small doses. 

Sources:
https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/excessive-shedding-dogs
https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_the_best_food_for_dogs

Morten Storgaard

I love pets and I've had several pets including hamsters, reptiles, birds, and fish. I have written extensively about pets and educational content about wild animals.

Recent Content